Matt Pronk

Narrative Essay


“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision.” -Theodore Hesburgh.

Vision? Matt Pronk? He squints to read and wears prescription glasses. When it comes to me though, Matt can read me like a book. It is through this that has amplified each gift he never even knew he gave me.

My truest friend affected my life through acceptance, listening skills, praise and criticism, and much needed advice.

Moving to a different town and attending a new school is always frightening. When I first arrived at Garner I was definitely frightened. I remember walking into my fifth grade classroom and feeling judged by every student as I took my seat. I decided to just hang back and do what I enjoyed doing. There was no place better to start than with my passion, football. I was glad to see that most of the boys played football during recess. I noticed that Matt was either always a captain or first to be picked. He was a great quarterback and had many other exceptional athletic skills. The second week of school had started and I still felt like I was the new guy. But it was time to pick new teams. Matt was a captain and picked me second saying something I’ll never forget.

“I pick him, he’s a good rusher.”

I thought, “Great, second picked, but for being a good rusher?” I loved offense and thought my skills were better as a receiver, but you didn’t hear me complain.

That week Matt and I bonded and he did finally notice my skills on offense as well. I quickly became one of “the guys” and had Matt to thank for that.

Off the field Matt brought his popularity with him. Since I was hanging out with the most popular guy in school my confidence went up. I was able to become more of my own person than trying to please people to fit in. Matt was also very intelligent, but I thought I was intelligent as well. This is where we clashed. He usually was right on subjects and brought to my attention different views of them. He told me that choosing which view was best was the toughest part. It felt like a whole new world when Matt opened my eyes. It was almost as if he was taking me under his arm and pointing out things I thought were never there. Through Matt’s acceptance my life started to change drastically for the better.

The times Matt spent listening to me changed my perspective of him. I thought that because of his popularity he thought he could treat people as he pleased. I looked at Matt as if he didn’t care about anybody but himself. I soon found out how wrong I was when we arrived in high school. High school was a rough atmosphere, but I knew that I had Matt to turn to. This helped diminish the roughness. Whenever I spoke to him I could tell he was listening. His feedback was always the most important to me. He gave me different responses that others couldn’t. I also felt very secure when telling him what was on my mind. I knew he’d never tell anybody what I said. Knowing that he wouldn’t go tell the entire senior class about our conversations about showed me that he really did care. This also changed the way I listened to people. There is no doubt in my mind that the way Matt listened changed my life.

Matt also did something I never even noticed was a good until now. He criticized me. Most people would get down on themselves for the words that came out of his mouth. I looked at what he said as what I needed to fix. We both had some crazy, stupid ideas. The difference between mine and his were that he knew where to draw the line and did and I wanted to go beyond the line. I always wanted to take it one step further. Most of the time when I decided to test these waters, I paid a consequence. Matt helped me become aware of this “danger zone” and when